Romanticism in Music and Poetry Music has developed as a form of self-expression that influences and impacts people’s lives in many different ways. By studying the evolution of music throughout centuries of time, one can compare and contrast the similarities and differences in style, theme, and instrumentation. Many styles that are used in today’s modern music can be related to the styles that were developed hundreds of years ago. Along with music, poetry is also an art form that has developed as a form of self-expression, helping to cultivate the minds of people and allowing them to interact with their inner thoughts and passions.
By studying two different art forms, one can discover the similarities in how they affect their audiences. More specifically, the song “Moonlight Sonata” composed by Ludwig von Beethoven during the Romantic Era, and the poem “Frost at Midnight” written by the famous poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, can be compared by focusing on their personal influences, desired moods, and the messages they are trying to portray. When examining different works of art, it is evident that composers and writers have many personal influences in their works.
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Because art is a form of self-expression, many factors can be taken into consideration. These include living environment, time periods, and other personal occurrences. Both Beethoven and Coleridge struggled with problems that developed in their early childhoods and progressed into their adulthoods. Coleridge was forced to deal with many problems in his life: the death of his father and a terrible relationship with his mother and nine older siblings at a young age, and several relationship issue and opium addiction in the future (1).
Beethoven also dealt with the death of family members, including the death of several of his siblings. He also showed signs of bipolar disorder and struggled with romantic disabilities (2). Coleridge’s and Beethoven’s past conditions and social disorders greatly affected and influenced the mysterious themes and styles used in their work. One significant characteristic of music in the Romantic period is that it demonstrates a greater freedom in form and design in order to achieve a desired mood within its audiences.
The Romantics took a more relaxed approach, and they factored passion and emotion into their works. Beethoven, as demonstrated in the song “Moonlight Sonata”, does not format this piece with any type of standardized tempo or rhythm. Instead, Beethoven focuses more on the expression of emotion (3). This has a thought-provoking effect on its listeners, and it instills a sense of imagination amongst them in order to achieve the desired mood. This can be directly compared to Coleridge’s poem, “Frost at Midnight”.
Although this is a piece of writing instead of music, Coleridge is still focusing on the expression of emotion toward his audiences. “Frost at Midnight” and “Moonlight Sonata” are free for interpretation; each can have a unique effect on each individual listener. The poem “Frost at Midnight” uses a series of abstract descriptions such as “‘pent mid cloisters dim” and “the frost performs it’s secret ministry, unhelped by any wind” (3) in order to achieve the desired mood of fantasy and mystery. Likewise, the song “Moonlight Sonata” achieves a similar desired mood through different chord progressions and harmonies.
Not only do the poem “Frost at Midnight” and the song “Moonlight Sonata” both reflect similar moods, but they also reflect similar themes. In regard to subject matter, composers from the Romantic Period emphasized passion rather than reason, imagination rather than logic, and free spontaneous action rather than restraint and order (3). Although Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” does not have lyrics, it instills a specific type of mood within the listener which is established in order to portray the subject line.
In a few lines in “Frost at Midnight”, Coleridge uses dark, cold descriptions in order to signify the feeling of entrapment. Similarly, both pieces of invoke fantasy and mystery in the reader/listener. Although poetry and music utilize different senses in understanding and appreciating these art forms, the similarities are still evident, and many can be closely related. Many writers and composers have similar ultimate purposes when producing their work, depending on their lifestyles and personal beliefs.
The works of Beethoven and Coleridge are only a few of the many examples that can demonstrate the comparisons in influences, moods, and messages amongst separate works of art. 1. Cited from: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Samuel_Taylor_Coleridge 2. Cited from: http://www. lvbeethoven. com/Bio/BiographyLudwig. html 3. Cited from: http://etext. virginia. edu/stc/Coleridge/poems/Frost_at_Midnight. html 4. Cited from: http://www. studyworld. com/newsite/reportessay/MusicArt/Music%5CRomantic_Music-